Spanish Lessons


Habemos: A Valid Conjugation of "Haber"?

Haber is definitely on the list of tricky Spanish verbs. In fact, even native Spanish speakers sometimes struggle with this verb, which can be used in different ways and forms to mean different things. Even though haber is most often used as the auxiliary verb, "to have," in the imperfect tenses (e.g. Yo he comido, or "I have eaten"), it is also used in cases in which we say "there is" or "there are" in English and in other cases, can mean "to be" or "to exist." 


Let's look at an example:


Hay muchos problemas,

There are a lot of problems,

Caption 6, Adícora - Venezuela El tatuaje de Rosana

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Along these lines, some speakers use habemos to make a reference to a group of people. In this case, you can think of habemos as something along the lines of "we are," "we have," "there are those of us who," etc. Let's take a look at the following sentence:


Entonces, que todavía no lo hay pero entonceshabemos gente que queremos hacerlo y... y, eh...

So, it doesn't exist yet, but then, there are those of us who want to do it, and... and, um...

Captions 90-91, Playa Adícora Chober - Part 2

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But, is it correct to use habemos in this manner? Let's find out.


The Simple Present Conjugation of the Verb Haber

As we noted in the example above, habemos seems to correspond to the first person plural in the simple present tense. But is that accurate? Let's take a look at how we conjugate haber in the simple present:


Yo he (I have)

has (you have)

Él/Ella ha (he/she has)

Usted ha (you have)

Nosotros hemos (we have)

Vosotros habéis (you have)

Ellos/Ustedes han (they/you have)

As you can see, hemos appears, but not habemos. So, is habemos a sort of special, alternative manner of conjugating haber?


So, What About Habemos

Long story short: No, we can't use habemos in this context. It's incorrect! Let's look at an example:


WRONG: Habemos pocos ingenieros en la empresa.

RIGHT: Somos pocos ingenieros en la compañía (There are just a few of us engineers at the company).


So, why do some people use habemos in error? The most likely reason is because habemos is the archaic conjugation of haber in the first person plural, which as we mentioned above, is now hemos. However, it shouldn't be used to mean "we are," "we have," "there are," etc. Let's take a look at this mistake in action in the following clips:


aunque indiscutiblemente habemos [sic] más cubanos que nada.

although undeniably, we have more Cubans than anything.

Caption 47, La Calle 8 Un recorrido fascinante

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Y donde no solo habemos [sic] cinco familias, sino hay...

And where there are not only five families, but rather there are...

Caption 25, Instinto de conservación Parque Tayrona - Part 5

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And of course, we can also see in action the first example mentioned in this lesson:

Entonces, que todavía no lo hay pero entonceshabemos [sic] gente que queremos hacerlo y... y, eh...

So, it doesn't exist yet, but then, there are those of us who want to do it, and... and, um...

Captions 90-91, Playa Adícora Chober - Part 2

Play Caption


That's all for today. We hope you've enjoyed this lesson, and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions.

Grammar Verbs

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